In Pictures: 22 ways Apple’s iPad video mixes fantasy and reality

Apple marketers are some of the best in the business, especially when showing off the new iPad Air in a promotional video. But don't fall completely for the marketing hype this holiday season. We break down one of their most compelling videos to separate real-world uses from fantasy.

  • Apple's iPad Vision vs. Tablet Reality Only the marketing folks at Apple could compare the $500 iPad Air with a No. 2 pencil in a television commercial and spark consumer excitement. When CEO Tim Cook unveiled the iPad Air in October, Apple ran another inspirational video, called "Life on iPad," showing all the crazy places people use their iPads. Six of the more than dozen examples are based on real cases. has been covering iPads in the enterprise since the beginning, and we know a little about where iPads end up and where most people would never dream about bringing them. And so we've taken apart Apple's "Life on iPad" video to find out what's real and what's not.

  • Life on iPad: iPad Blowing in the Wind Apple's "Life on iPad" video opens with a real-life case study: iPads in the hands of a couple of field service technicians at Siemens Energy-Wind Service working high atop a windmill. The iPad helps them do their job: take pictures, email questions, troubleshoot on the spot. The technicians use the iPads while wearing heavy duty gloves, which probably have special conductive material stitched into the fingertips in order to work on a touchscreen.

  • Our Take: A Field Technician's Tool The iPad truly is a field service technician's dream tool and has been spotted at construction sites, archeological digs and, yes, atop windmills. Even the Cablevision repair guy carries an iPad, often using Google Translate app to communicate with customers who speak a foreign language. These iPads connect to servers and provide reference information, instant feedback and process transactions. An assortment of heavy-duty iPad cases are available for all sorts of field service situations.

  • Life on iPad: Deep Dive In one of its more compelling images, the Apple video shows a SCUBA diver dropping down on a wreck holding an iPad in a water-proof case. She swims along the ship's deck while checking the iPad, perhaps to enhance the dive with maps about the wreck, identify fish or compute decompression stops. The underlying message is that the iPad can go anywhere, as opposed to, say, the Surface Pro, whose name keeps it above water.

  • Our Take: Water Logged Quick, how much pressure can an iPad withstand? Most wrecks are at depths nearing 100 feet or more, so the iPad will need a pressure-equalizing $600 case, such as iDive. The case has a canister of compressed gas that pumps air into it the deeper the diver goes. So is it possible? Yes. But divers know water gets everywhere, especially on the boat ride out to the wreck site. Water is the No. 1 killer of iPads and iPhones. Even a little moisture can ruin it. We doubt many divers would risk bringing their $500-plus iPad Air below the surface.

  • Life on iPad: A Global Cash Register The iPad isn't just a U.S. phenomenon. Apple's video shows an Asian man sitting in a small boat in a canal bustling with market activity. He's computing prices on an iPad. We're not sure what country this is supposedly taking place, but it's somewhere in Southeast Asia. The video is an attempt not only to show the iPad's international flair but that it's a working tool for small businesses.

  • Our Take: Swiping the Cash Register Showing exotic places might make for great videos, but Apple marketers really need a dose of reality here. The iPad is one of the most costly gadgets on the market; it's unlikely that a small businessman in a poor country can afford one. If, by chance, he does carry around an iPad, it would probably mark him as a target for theft. The iPad is one of the most coveted gadgets by thieves. That's not to say that the iPad isn't great for small businesses. Retailers use the iPad extensively, thanks to apps and services such as ShopKeep, Square and PayPal.

  • Life on iPad: Apple's Kitchen Creation Apple shows an iPad in a restaurant kitchen housed in a shock-proof case near stacks of plates and close to the edge of a slippery metal shelf. On its screen is a picture of a shrimp appetizer. We're not sure about the use-case, but it involves some kind of order-taking. Is it for kitchen staff? Is it facing food servers? It's clearly not for customers, which is being done at airport restaurants operated by OTG Management.

  • Our Take: Get Out of My Kitchen It's pretty obvious that Apple marketers have never worked in a restaurant kitchen. During the lunch or dinner rush, the kitchen becomes a steamy mess with bits of food, flour, sauces and hot oil splashing on everything. Pots, pans, utensils and dishes regularly get knocked over and crash to the ground. Who would bring an iPad into the kitchen? No self-respecting chef. Side dish: If you're a professional line cook who needs to look up pretty pictures of food orders while you're creating them, or if you're a waiter who doesn't know the menu and needs to match the picture with the dish to pick up, then you probably need to find another line of work.

  • Life on iPad: Making Better Wine In another one of Apple's case-study examples, master vintner Christian Gaston Palmaz of Palmaz Vineyards in Napa Valley, one of the world's greatest wine producing regions, uses the iPad in the field to gather data on soil hydration, nutrient profiles, leaf moisture content, and cluster temperature. "Together, this data gives us an accurate picture of the whole vineyard, allowing us to make informed decisions about how to tend our vines. The data helps us get better fruit," Palmaz says in an Apple-written case study.

  • Our Take: In Vino Veritas We've never tried Palmaz wines, but we probably don't have a sensitive enough palette to tell the difference between grapes grown with an iPad and those that weren’t. However, it's these kinds of business scenarios where the iPad excels: Data at your fingertips, knowledge where and when you need it. If the iPad really does make better wine, who are we to complain?

  • Life on iPad: Ultralight 'iPad Air' Plane A pilot flying an ultralight plane is using the CloudAhoy app on the iPad to collect flight data via GPS that will help build a comprehensive debriefing later. The image is an inspiring one, as the ultralight plane hovers over snow-capped mountains and toward the sunset. Best of all, the ultralight plane drives home the lightness of the iPad Air and the heights it can reach.

  • Our Take: iPads Take Flight Pretty pictures are nice, but who flies an ultralight plane? The more relevant message is that the iPad has found a place in the cockpits of commercial planes. Led by American Airlines, the iPad replaces bulky, oft-outdated paper manuals. All of this, though, begs the question: Do pilots have to turn off their iPads on takeoffs and landings, too?

  • Life on iPad: Where's the 911 App? Sirens wailing, a fire truck speeds off to an emergency. The fireman sitting shotgun stares into an iPad for route directions. We can only hope that it's not Apple Maps, the much-maligned maps app. We can only pray that there's enough juice in the iPad battery to get them to where they need to go. We can only assume that the city has a big enough data plan.

  • Our Take: Can We Trust It? In case of an emergency, touch glass. The iPad has indeed made its way into police cars and fire trucks. The Redlands Police Department, for instance, has become Apple's poster boy for the iPad on the police beat. The iPad lets officers view maps and photos, take notes, and interact with the community. As 911 services rely more heavily on the iPad and apps for critical functions, however, their notoriously understaffed IT departments will have their hands full.

  • Life on iPad: Surgical Precision In one of the most spectacular use cases, Dr. Itaru Endo, director of digestive surgery and liver transplantation at Yokohama City University, is shown using an iPad and an app he and his colleagues helped develop that minimizes risks with liver surgery. Here is Apple's description: "The app uses augmented reality to overlay complex vascular systems during operations. This reveals liver perfusion patterns that are invisible to the human eye, giving greater insight into the exact location of certain blood vessels."

  • Our Take: iPad, a Health Choice The liver surgery app is moving through clinical evaluations, which is to say, the iPad in the surgery room is in its early days. However, the iPad in healthcare has taken off. Doctors and nurses traditionally shun new technology but have fallen in love with iPads. They're using them to interact with patients, get real-time information at patient bedsides and cut the cord that had tied them to PCs for decades. However, some critical desktop apps, such as Cerner, that require lots of screen real estate simply don't render well on the tablet.

  • Life on iPad: Made for Business Executives The Apple video shows a business meeting taking place in Asia with well-dressed executives on a high-level floor overlooking the city. It's dark outside and inside -- why so sinister? One of the executives is holding an iPad, scrolling through charts and making a presentation. The lights are low as other executives look at, presumably, a video screen of the presentation being transmitted from the iPad.

  • Our Take: Born in the Boardroom Who dares carry paper and a pencil into a strategy meeting these days? Only a few years ago, the iPad was an anomaly in the conference room. Today, it's de rigueur.

  • Life on the iPad: Ready for Some Football? In the heat of a game, a football coach goes into the huddle and draws up a play complete with video on an iPad -- double slot, jet stretch right -- that turns into a touchdown. The runner nicely changes hands with the football as he crosses the field toward the right sidelines. Great execution, or is it?

  • Our Take: No iPads on the Gridiron If Apple showed a basketball coach using an iPad to draw up a play during a timeout, then maybe we'd buy it. The iPad would probably make a better replacement for the small whiteboards showing a court that many basketball coaches currently use today. But football? The gridiron? Playing in rain and mud? A play clock ticking down? It's been years since any of us played youth football, but we don't recall the coach ever coming into the huddle. We're throwing the yellow flag.

  • Life on the iPad: Taking It to the Extreme The final scene in Apple's video leaves the viewer in awe: A rock climber perches precariously on a vertical face in a bright, yellow tent thousands of feet high among the snow-capped mountains. She's looking at an iPad. The camera pulls away to show the magnitude of the danger and isolation. There's no place an iPad can't go.

  • Our Take: iPad for Rock Climbers? Ask rock climbers who've actually done this, and you'll hear them tell a different story. They're most concerned about the weight they'll be hauling up the cliff face. An entire industry specializes in such light-weight yet reliable gear. Any electronics would be small and absolutely necessary. We're still wondering what she's looking at on the iPad. Even if she had connectivity (which she wouldn't), she can't possibly be checking Facebook, right?

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